As director of ministry placement, I've made my share of mistakes. Here are some of the biggest I've made. I share them so you don't have to repeat them!
1. Don't pray about it.
If God gives the vision for a ministry, He always prepares the players to make it happen. Successful ministries grow in God's own timing.
2. Assume everyone you ask to serve will stick it out automatically.
People stay in the game because they feel needed and valuable. A coach is the one who can keep the vision and purpose before volunteers as they go about doing ministry that God has equipped them to do. It is our responsibility to provide ongoing training and support. We must reinforce their job description and its boundaries. We must ask them often, "How can I better support you? How can I make things easier for you? What tools do you need?"
3. Don't allow people to tell you where they want to serve.
You can sell your idea or your pity story and hook someone who has the gift of "I can't say no," or you can go for a win/win situation for both sides.
The perfect fit in placing someone in ministry comes when you take the time to talk with them and provide testing instruments that will reveal to you both their spiritual gifts, personality style, and God-given passion or burden.
- Ask about their beliefs, their church history, and involvement.
- Talk with their Bible study teachers and friends within the church.
- Be intentional about really getting to know this person, then invite them into a ministry area in which they are gifted and passionate.
I like to give folks several options to consider and pray about. We also allow them to "test drive" a ministry, by connecting them to another member already serving before committing to an assignment.
Also, I never leave a new servant in a role very long without assessing the fit. If it is wrong, end it immediately and begin the quest and praying for another area.
4. Give them a task with no training or clear expectation and let them hang themselves.
I asked one man to take an important role, which he agreed to immediately. I had observed this man in church life for years. He was a deacon, a godly man, attended every Sunday, always pleasant and smiling, a newly retired CEO of a large company—the perfect fit for a leadership role coupled with the gift of administration.
His first Sunday as leader, he delegated every responsibility then sat down. That's the way he had led in business. It demoralized his team in just one Sunday. I had not clearly explained his role, so we prayed, we discussed ways to better lead the team, and he willingly became a servant rather than a leader and all was well. Today, two years later, he fills the same role successfully.
5. If people are doing their job well, don't worry too much about their spiritual life.
At peak traffic, it seems like a million vans and sports utility vehicles are entering our campus at the same time. It seems that each family has three or four small children running across traffic to the church building. My concern for safety grew quickly. Once again God sent the perfect person to head this traffic team.
This man was a complete stranger to me, but he had all the right plans of action, started immediately, brought with him half his Bible study class to work. I got to know him and discovered that this man was a former Special Agent with the Narcotics Division. He had resigned because his wife cried so hard every time he left home wearing a bulletproof vest. Now he could play cops and robbers safely and for God. What a deal!